MSHQ 052 : Getting a Mentor to Guide Your Premed Path

Session 52

Session 52

Congrats to Jessica & “9th Grade High Schooler” for winning a copy of The Heartbeat of Success!” – if you didn't win,  you can purchase with the link from below

In this episode, Ryan talks with Alexa Mieses, a 2 year medical student at  Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  Today, we talk about mentorship, its impact on Alexa’s life and her path into medicine, and why she now passes this on to others as she continues to be a positive influence on others through mentoring.

Alexa is also an author of the book The Heartbeat of Success: A Med Student's Guide to Med School Admissions, which offers logical and accurate advice on applying to medical school.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Alexa:

Alexa's current path to medicine:

  • A 2nd year medical student at Mt. Sinai in New York City
  • Master of Public Health program (She will graduate with both MD and MPH in 2016)
  • Getting a scholarship at Sinai

What set Alexa up for success in getting a scholarship at Sinai:

  • Choosing to major in Biology and minor in Psychology
  • Exploring her love for writing on the side
  • Becoming a member of the Minority Association of Premedical Students (MAPS), the undergrad arm of the National Medical Association, an organization specifically for medical students of color with a two-fold mission:
    • Help medical students of color succeed at medical school
    • Raise awareness to health disparities as well as health equity and social justice issues

Growing up in Queens, New York got her exposed to health disparity issues

Being awarded the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship funded by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, a fellowship that provides opportunities to undergrads for professional development through full-time summer internships for 3 summers, professional development seminars, and cultural activities.

Her experiences as a Jeannette K. Watson fellow:

  • Teaching biology and ecology at Bronx Zoo for the first summer
  • Her interest in public health started revving up
  • Spending her second summer at Gay Men's Health Crisis, an HIV community-based organization, specifically at the public policy department
  • Writing her first magazine article about a phenomenon called corrective rape and its impact on the spread of HIV
  • Her article being published in Pulse Magazine's Treatment Issues

The impetus for Alexa to pursue medicine:

  • Not the best student in high school and became very ill
  • Every year in her high school, someone had died of drug-related causes
  • Becoming involved with a drug awareness Club in high school that got her interested in psychiatry and neuroscience
  • Her high school experience giving her the fuel and energy to do well in college

Her college experience:

  • Failing in her pre-calculus class
  • Joining a peer tutoring program

The power of course correction:

  • When you face obstacles, before taking another step forward, stop
  • Try to figure out what went wrong and how to get back on course

The implications of being a tutor:

  • Allowing her to reinforce a lot of the fundamental scientific concepts that helped her with her high-level courses and the MCAT
  • Teaching as one of the best ways of learning

The impact of mentorship in Alexa's life:

  • It is transformative.
  • Getting involved in Mentoring in Medicine, an non-profit organization dedicated to helping students interested in pursuing a career in health professions learn more about that career and become more competitive for the different programs
  • Meeting two doctors who have helped her in school as well as with her medical school application; her mentors being able to fill that void in her professional life

How to find a mentor:

  • Your peers can be your mentor. You don't need a physician to provide you with guidance or someone who's older than you/
  • A mentor is someone who can be supportive and can help you find solutions to your problems.
  • Don't be afraid to reach out to someone. There are many different ways to reach out such as email, Skype, social media.
  • Be fearless. The worse that can happen is they will tell you no. But you'll never know what they're going to say if don't ask.
  • If you get a no, find another one who can help you.
  • Periodically keep in contact with your advisors, professors, colleagues. You never know what opportunities can come from that.

About her book, The Heartbeat of Success:

  • A guide to medical school admissions
  • A 30-day challenge sponsored by Mentor in Medicine and Small Business Camp
  • Her goal of being able to reach a larger audience and offer them invaluable tools and tips to succeed in the medical school admissions process especially to those who don't have much access to resources
  • Writing her book in 30 days – Wow!

Listening to different voices:

  • Take every bit of advice with a grain of salt.
  • Try to hear as many perspectives as possible and lay out every piece of advice like cards on the table.
  • It's okay to deviate from the traditional premed path but just be prepared to explain why you made that decision.

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Do what you love. People are conformed to an idea of what they think is right. If you're doing what you're most passionate about, you will naturally excel. You will naturally shine. If you're not even sure yet as to what you're passionate about, that's okay. Spend time figuring out what you love.

Links and Other Resources:

Follow @Soon2bDrMieses

Check out The Differential Blog on Medscape where Alexa’s  writes for regularly

Alexa's Book -> The Heartbeat of Success: A Med Student's Guide to Med School Admissions

Alexa's Website

Minority Association of Pre-medical Students

Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

Mentoring in Medicine

Alexa's first article on Corrective Rape: Gender Inequality and Corrective Rape of Women Who Have Sex with Women

Save $225 on the Princeton Review's MCAT Ultimate or MCAT Self-Paced Prep Course through March 30th 2016 by going to

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  • We’re hoping for some great discussion here!

  • KH

    I really enjoyed this podcast very informative and encouraging. Thank you.

  • Jaime Davis

    I am extremely fortunate to have the support of the ER docs that I work with. I can honestly say that I wouldnt have even considered medicine were it not for them. I guess they saw something in me, but they showed that I can, and will, succeed in this profession. They keep me in line with school work, research, etc. One of them would even quiz me during shift leading up to me sitting the MCAT, so long as I reciprocated and quizzed him for his EM boards. They keep my passion for emergency medicine, and medicine in general, alive every time I work with them. A couple keep up with me outside of work too and meet up regularly to check in. I am extremely fortunate in the support system I have and owe my current, and future, success to them!

  • austin newsam

    It was junior year in high school when I met my first mentor. I had just begun my first week of shadowing in a local orthopedic clinic when I was introduced to Dr. P, a 62 year old orthopedic surgeon. I would shadow him in the operating room and the clinic every evening after school. I asked him so many different questions not only about the procedures and courses of treatment for patients, but also about his journey to orthopedic surgery. He first encouraged me to go to his Alma Mater, a small, private all-guys school in VA, for undergrad because his family has a scholarship fund there. Even with the scholarship I was unable to attend for financial reasons and he understood.
    Whenever I am able to go back and shadow during school breaks, Dr. P continues to congratulate me on making the dean’s list every semester. He also continues to write excellent letters of recommendation for me and I am extremely greatful for that. Dr. P is very well known and respected around my small town and I can personally see that every time I shadow him. Being a top orthopedic surgeon, I expected more of an egotistic manner. I could not have asked for a better mentor to start my medical journey. I hope he remains alive and well to watch me graduate medical school.

  • 9th Grade High Schooler

    I am a 9th grader and just starting on my pathway to medicine, I have several local doctors that I have talked to and they have been so great. This spring I went with a family member that had to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester for some treatment. I was able to talk with the doctor about my interest in medicine, he took the time (he is a VERY busy doctor too) to explain his dictation to me, did his dictation in front of me and also explained in detail about taking health histories. A few months later when he called my family member back with test results, he remembered me & mentioned me saying that he thought we had a doctor in the family and that I had some character qualities of a good doctor. Your podcast has also been a great encouragment to me. As I had said before in a post to you (podcast #45) I had been working on an essay for a medical program for high schoolers. I got a seat in the program and have been learning a lot. We have done a physcial exam on a standardized patient and got to tour the universities anatomy lab. I got to hold a human heart in my hands and examine it. I was so awesome and nothing like my grade school/high school health textbooks, it was just unbelievable. I’ve got another 7 years until med school and I am sure I will have some doubts between now and then and will need some help to continue on.
    I think there is something you can encourage me on, I keep hearing about the dreaded Organic Chem and how it’s so hard and terrible to take. Any tips? I’ve not had regular chemistry yet, but will next year.
    Thanks for all you do,
    p.s. my mom loves when you let your wife be on the show 🙂

    • Haha – my wife joins me on shows to cover topics – not just “when I let her” 🙂

      Don’t worry about O-Chem. By the time you get there, you’ll have plenty of work under your belt – it’s just another step in the journey!

      Thanks for the great comment.

      • Jessica Daley

        I love O-Chem and find it way easier than Gen Chem (but maybe it’s because I’m more interested in O-Chem). Don’t be too worried. It’s hard but with practice, the mechanisms make sense and are fascinating! There are great resources out there as well. “Organic Chemistry as a Second Language” (both semester 1 and semester 2) by David R. Klein is my favorite.

        You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. Don’t let the hype scare you. 🙂

    • Caleb Mayes

      Don’t worry about O-Chem, it really isn’t that bad. I’m a senior in college and the hardest class I’ve taken so far is Physics, but if you’re alright with trigonometry and calculus, it shouldn’t be too bad either. The biggest thing is to make sure to get help from the professor, a tutor (which are free at most colleges), or a fellow classmate if you feel that you are struggling in any class.

    • @6c69bcd897b60634f5cb2079ef384fff:disqus – Congrats on winning! Email me your address and I’ll get you a copy of the book!

      • 9th Grade High Schooler

        THANK YOU!!!

        • Alexa Mieses


  • Alexa Mieses

    Wow! It’s great to see such wonderful comments and hear about your mentoring experiences.

  • A happy parent

    I am a parent of a teen who wants to go into medicine. All these topics that you do really help to solidify her decision. Thank you. Truly appreciate you. 🙂

  • Jessica Daley

    I am a post-bacc student in a pre-med program. I have found that my best mentors have been my peers. A group of us have banded together and share information and opportunities. I’ve helped them get a volunteer position at a local hospital, another has shared study guides he’s found on line, another has already taken the MCAT and is so open to offering advice, and another has research experience. Without access to an official advisor, these peers have helped me in my path to medicine (along with this podcast). We all have access to various other mentors (doctors we have worked with, family members, etc.) but by banding together, we now have access to advice given to each other, which quadruples what we would have on our own.

    • @jessicadaley:disqus – Congrats on winning a copy of the book! – email me your address and I’ll get you a copy.

      • Jessica Daley

        Yay!!! Thanks 🙂

        • Alexa Mieses

          Congratulations, Jessica!

  • Alexa Mieses

    Thank you for posting engaging comments everyone. Congratulations to the winners!

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